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It has been predicted that unless addressed, superbug infections will result in 10 million deaths annually by 2050 (i.e. 1 person every 3 seconds) and an associated financial burden of more than 10 trillion USD.

Ulster University is tackling this issue head on with multidisciplinary research and evidence-based interventions to inform policy and transform lives. To mark WHO Antibiotic Awareness Week, Ulster University held a workshop for researchers and key stakeholders including representatives from the Department of Health, DAERA and the Public Health Agency.

The workshop is part of the university’s input into the development of Northern Ireland’s five-year Antimicrobial Resistance Action plan (led by Department of Health), which complements UK policy in line with the UN Global Action Planning on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Dr Patrick Dunlop, Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering at Ulster University established the Northern Ireland Antimicrobial Resistance Network (NI AMR Network) to bring together the academic, private and public sectors across the region to tackle this hugely complex problem.

He commented:

“Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem which results in the death of more than 700,000 people each year. This number is only set to rise unless we tackle the issue head on. The issue is greater than just human medicine, spanning veterinary antimicrobial use, environmental pollution, health and hygiene, food and agriculture, education and behaviour change.

“At Ulster University we are taking a multidisciplinary approach to fight the superbugs; combining our expertise in engineering, biomedical sciences, pharmacy, environmental science, psychology and computer science to create innovative solutions and inform policy on both a local and global level.

“Everyone has a role to play in addressing antimicrobial resistance, simple things like washing your hands, following your healthcare professional’s advice and taking mediciation as instructed, and becoming an Antibiotic Guardian can help protect antibiotics for future generations.”

At the workshop, 10 Ulster PhD students presented a 3-minute snap shot of their research which included everything from new drugs targeting bacterial communication, sawdust for wastewater treatment and genomic analysis to rapid point of care sensors and games to raise public awareness.

For more information on the Northern Ireland Antimicrobial Resistance Network, please follow us on Twitter @NIAMRNetwork